TV's Shutdown News Blamed Trump, Touted Victims Over Border Debate

NewsBusters | 2/4/2019 | Staff
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In just 35 days, the partial government shutdown generated nearly five hours of coverage on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, eclipsing all other political topics. By a six-to-one margin, network reporters framed the shutdown as the fault of President Trump and Republicans, not Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats, even though the media’s own polls found the public was much more balanced in its view of who was responsible.

And the central issue of the shutdown, the need for greater border security, was given relatively little attention: Out of 297 minutes of total shutdown coverage, just 27% (80 minutes) was devoted to the debate over the border wall — far less time than was given to TSA workers calling in sick, delays at airports and the personal plight of government workers who had their paychecks delayed.

Networks - Coverage - Shutdown - President - Trump

While the networks’ coverage of the shutdown was highly negative toward President Trump, it really wasn’t much more negative than has been the norm since Inauguration Day. The Media Research Center’s ongoing tracking of the Big Three evening newscasts found 93% of the evaluative statements about the President (excluding neutral statements) were negative in January — barely above the 92% percent we documented in December. For all of 2018, coverage of the Trump administration on these networks was 90% negative, the same level of hostility we tracked in 2017.

Most of TV’s shutdown coverage consisted of a parade of victims. As early as January 11, ABC was touting workers at food pantries; one IRS worker told the network, “we don’t have any money and we don’t have much food.” On January 17, NBC’s Tom Costello spotlighted another IRS worker “selling her own plasma for $50 to support her family.” On January 23, CBS passed along the claim of a union boss that a worried IRS worker...
(Excerpt) Read more at: NewsBusters
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